Health/Fitness » Health

July 25 is National African American Hepatitis C Action Day

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Jul 23, 2014

July 25 is National African American Hepatitis C Action Day (NAAHCAD), a national mobilization initiative aimed at reducing the high incidence of Hepatitis C infection in black communities. Officially proclaimed in July 2013, the event partners up The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA), Coalition On Positive Health Empowerment (C.O.P.E.), and Harm Reduction Coalition to present their second annual Hepatitis C Action Day throughout the nation this Friday.

"We call this a 'day of action' because we need to ensure that deliberate actions are taken to stem the tide of the Hepatitis C epidemic in black communities throughout the nation," said NBLCA President and CEO C. Virginia Fields. "NBLCA and its partners are working together to create awareness about this critical and under-recognized health problem."

To promote awareness and draw attention to this neglected health disparity, the NAAHCAD initiative targets areas where the virus has the greatest impact on the African-American population. With the assistance of local health partners, government agencies, and elected officials, free testing and informational events will be offered throughout the day in various cities of the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.2 million Americans -- more than 75 percent of whom are "Baby Boomers" born between 1945 and 1965 -- are infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and, because there are often no noticeable symptoms, most don't know they are infected. An estimated 22 percent of people living with chronic Hepatitis C are African American, a higher rate than whites and other racial and ethnic groups.

HCV, transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, can be detected through a simple blood test. It is a leading cause of potentially fatal liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A public service campaign made possible by the NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute, "Hepatitis C: The Silent Killer," features bus shelter advertisements in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, as well as public service announcements on radio stations throughout the state. Announcements are also running on radio stations in several other U.S. cities.

NAAHCAD events are sponsored and funded by The American Liver Foundation, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, New York Community Trust, New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, and the NY City Council Faith-Based HIV/AIDS Initiative.

For more information about National African American Hepatitis C Action Day testing events and resources, visit www.nblca.org.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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